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Lemieux Library

Citing Your Sources Guide

Notes

Statutes (laws/acts) are "codified" on a continuous basis in the online United States Code (U.S.C.) by the Office of Law Revision Counsel. In general, you should cite statutes (laws/act) to their location in the online United States Code (U.S.C.)

You can find the relevant U.S.C. title and section(s) in the text of the law. You can find official sources of the law in:

In the U.S.C., or in the Public Law, look for statements about where the law applies to the Code (U.S.C. "Titles" and "sections").

  • If the law spans a ranges of sections, add "et seq." after the U.S.C. number to indicate "and what follows." Note: You do not include U.S.C. "chapters" in citations.
  • If the statute (law/act) is spread out among scattered sections of the U.S.C., and you wish to cite the law as a whole, cite using the Public Law number, and include the parallel citation to the law's location in the Statutes at Large, when available.
  • If the statute (law/act) does not appear in the United States Code, cite using the Public Law number, and include the parallel citation to its location in Statutes at Large, when available.

See examples, below.

Statute (Law/act) appears in a single section of the United States Code

When a statute is codified in a single section of the United States Code (U.S.C.), cite to the U.S.C..

Example: Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act.

In the header for this Act, you will see the U.S.C. citation: 20 U.S.C. § 6301. This is the start of the range of sections it applies to, but if you read this Act closely, you will see that the Act itself appears in section 7705, Impact Aid.

In Reference List:

  • Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act. 20 U.S.C § 7705 (2020).

Explanation: This Act appears (was codified) in a single section of the the U.S.C. in Title 20, section 7705, in 2020.

Note: You can find the section symbol in Word > Insert > Symbols > Special Characters

In Text:

  • (Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, 2020)
  • Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act (2020)

Statute (Act/Law) spans a range of sections in the United States Code

If the law spans a ranges of sections, add "et seq." after the U.S.C. number to indicate "and what follows."

Tip: Browse and search the official United States Code to find the "reference notes: "

Pub. L. 111–260, §1(a), Oct. 8, 2010, 124 Stat. 2751 , provided that: "This Act [enacting sections 615c and 616 to 620 of this title, amending sections 153, 225, 303, 330, 402, 503, 610, and 613 of this title, and enacting provisions set out as notes under sections 153, 303, 613, and 619 of this title] may be cited as the 'Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010'."

In Text:

  • (Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, 2020)
  • Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (2020)

In Reference List:

Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2020. 47 USC 609  et seq. (2009). URL

Statute (Public Law/Act) is spread out among different sections of the code

When a statute applies to numerous sections of the Code, and you wish to cite the Act as a whole, cite using the Public law number.

To determine where the statute is codified (where it appears in the United States Code), follow this process:

  1. Find the U.S.C. number listed in the header of the law. For example, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes this location in the United States Code: 42 U.S.C. § 15801.
  2.  Look for the note: "References in this text," e.g.,
    "This Act, referred to in text, is Pub. L. 109–58, Aug. 8, 2005, 119 Stat. 594, as amended, known as the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which enacted this chapter and enacted, amended, and repealed numerous other sections and notes in the Code.

In Reference List:

  • Energy Policy Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-58, 119 Stat. 594 (2005). https://www.congress.gov/109/plaws/publ58/PLAW-109publ58.pdf

Explanation: In the example above, Pub. L. No. 109-58 refers to Public Law number 58  from the 109th Congress, with a parallel citation to its location in volume 119, page 594 of the US Statutes at Large (119 Stat. 594). Because I retrieved this from a publicly available website, rather than an academic database, the URL is appended to the end.

In text:

  • (Energy Policy Act, 2005)
  • Energy Policy Act (2005)

Law (statute) does not yet appear in the United States Code

If the law has just passed and does not yet appear in the United States Code, cite to the Public Law Number with a parallel citation to its location in Statutes at Large.

Example: If you were citing this law shortly after it passed in 2005, and it had not yet appeared in the United States Code.*

Energy Policy Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-58, 119 Stat. 594 (2005). https://www.congress.gov/109/plaws/publ58/PLAW-109publ58.pdf

Explanation: In the example above, Pub. L. No. 109-58 refers to Public Law number 58  from the 109th Congress, with a parallel citation to its location in volume 119, page 594 of the US Statutes at Large (119 Stat. 594). Because I retrieved this from a publicly available website, rather than an academic database, the URL is appended to the end.

In text:

  • (Energy Policy Act, 2005)
  • Energy Policy Act (2005)

*There may be only a few months lag between when a law is passed and when it appears in the United States Code. See Office of Law Revision Council, Currency and Updating.

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